Sauna Health Benefits
An authentic Russian sauna is one of the most powerful, integrated spa procedures in the world (Spa - Lat. sanita pro aqua, ‘health through water'). The Russian sauna simultaneously affects the human body in various ways. The sauna activates most bodily organs and systems, has a profound rejuvenating effect, stimulates detoxification and heals the emotional body. There are obviously other effective methods of restoring a person's health, but when it comes to simultaneous action from a number of different angles without resorting to the use of pills, the Russian sauna is beyond competition.
In this article, we focus on the regenerative effect of the Russian sauna on the different organs and systems of the human body. We note contraindications and offer advice on how to get the maximum health benefit from a Russian sauna.
Note: by Russian sauna we mean an authentic Russian ‘banya’ fitted with a traditional masonry stove proven to generate the light steam and soft heat so valued by sauna connoisseurs. In our opinion, modern style conventional saunas, electric heaters and other 'misconception' as we call them, are detrimental to a person’s health. Furnace Art Engineering specialises in creating classical sauna stoves and steam rooms. Our stoves are designed with a unique, self-contained feature which enables them to ventilate the steam room.
It is important to understand that the effects on the body of a Russian sauna are powerful and fast-acting, in other words, intensive. This means that fanatic use and failure to exert caution when indulging excessively in sauna procedures can have harmful effects. 'Excessive' means 'a lot and straight away'. Everything in moderation. Let your attachment to the Russian sauna develop gradually and your health will return in full and to stay.
Light steam makes the heat of a Russian sauna easy to bear. In fact, light steam makes sitting in the hot steam room so easy and comfortable that even at an actual temperature of almost 100°c (usually 60-80°c), the person sitting in the sauna does not experience any discomfort at all. Details of the microclimate characteristic of a Russian sauna are described on our Sauna Stoves for the Home page.
The Soul The Russian sauna brings joy to the soul! 'Pareniye', a kind of thermal massage experienced in a Russian sauna, is essentially a little piece of heaven that causes the body to rejoice and the soul to sing. Taking a sauna restores inner balance and makes life vibrant again filling your world with new colour. You will find your enthusiasm for life in all its variety returning. Irritability, insomnia, fatigue and depression dissolve. In the sauna, tiredness disappears as if by magic.
The heart and cardiovascular system In the steam room, a bather's blood circulation increases placing greater demand on the heart and their pulse rate usually quickens to 100-120 beats per minute. The capillaries of the skin actively dilate and after the second visit to the steam room in an overall session, some people note a temporary "marble" effect, a colourful pattern, on their skin. Overall, circulation rate usually doubles and blood pressure rises. After a session in the steam room, the heart takes about 10 minutes to settle back down again. So what are the health benefits? The sauna works like an incredible exercise machine for the heart. Training the heart to handle greater demands in the sauna translates into a certain reserve factor being felt in everyday life. Contraindications: stage 3 hypertension (systolic, 'upper' pressure more than 200), acute myocardial infarction, thrombophlebitis, unstable stenocardia.
The sauna successfully combats coronary heart disease and vegetative-vascular dystonia. It helps in the treatment of myocarditis and restores the heart after myocardial infarction (it is safe to use a sauna six months afterwards).
Lungs Like the heart, in a steam room session, ventilation of the lungs is increased. In-breaths become deeper and more frequent and the lungs grow expand. This is where our stoves' integrated feature that ventilates the steam room is totally indispensable. The stove not only generates light steam and gentle heat, it also enriches the steam room with oxygen at the same time as removing vapours and carbon dioxide. If the walls of the steam room are hung with fragrant herbs (tansy, wormwood, sweet clover, eucalyptus, etc.) and lightly sprinkled with aromatic infusions, ethers will be carried into the lungs as one breathes. This types of inhalation inhibits microbes and clears the lungs. There have been cases, when regular visits to the sauna have been known to cure obstructive bronchitis and even asthma. The common cold can be cured in a single visit. Contraindications: acute viral infection with high temperature. Try to avoid smoking during sauna procedures.
The sauna effectively treats sinusitis, chronic bronchitis and laryngitis, and it also helps in recovery from pneumonia. Susceptibility to allergens is reduced (in this case, the use of aromatic herbs and essences should be avoided, although an oak sauna switch may be used).
Intestines The digestive system is stimulated reducing the risk of dysbacteriosis. In the sauna, a person sweats intensely causing them to lose fluid and salt. It also boosts the appetite. We recommend drinking mineral water between each exposure to the steam room. The sauna should be visited roughly two hours after your last meal but not on an empty stomach. This is because, when a person has eaten well, blood flows away from the head and rushes to the intestines to aid digestion. As a result, bathing immediately after a meal may cause one to experience dizziness. It is particularly important for the elderly to be cautious.
Liver and kidneys Gallbladder motility is increased and the liver seems to unload itself. Reducing toxin levels in the body enables the liver to regenerate quicker. A significant amount of fluid is lost when the body sweats which quickly restores the functioning of the kidneys. The effect is long-term. People who use the sauna regularly notice a marked reduction in problems of inflammation.
Bones and muscles The sauna restores a beautiful posture, proud chest and straight back. The problems of osteochondrosis and associated pain fade. Muscle tone is restored. The sauna is also beneficial for people with rheumatism and for post training recovery is worth its weight in gold. 'Pareniye', thermal massage with a sauna switch consisting of oak, birch, and eucalyptus leaves, augments the effect of the steam room on the locomotor apparatus. It is beneficial to have a massage in rest intervals between exposures to the sauna.
Skin and hair The clearly glowing health of those who regularly use a Russian sauna is to a large part down to the effects of the sauna on the skin. In a Russian sauna, the skin is perfectly moisturised, the pores are opened and cleansed and the body releases toxins. The skin's own protection and repair mechanism is activated. Inflammation is reduced, wrinkles smoothed and skin tone improved. The Russian sauna can even conquer cellulite! The skin's elasticity increases and during 'pareniye' (special thermal massage) tannins released from the 'venik' (sauna switch made of aromatic, leafy twigs) strengthens and tones the skin. This is key to the ongoing rejuvenating effect of the Russian sauna. Delivery of nutrients to the skin due to improved blood circulation is hugely increased. It is also great for the skin to wash using a birch sauna switch in combination with coal tar soap. No nourishing cream can achieve anywhere near the same powerful effect.
The sauna can successfully heal: acne, dermatitis (including atopic), psoriasis and furunculosis, trophic lesions and inflammation, cellulite.
After a sauna, the hair rediscovers its elasticity, hair growth improves, fragility, brittleness and a tendency for hair loss is significantly reduced, all due to nutrients delivered by the capillaries.
Nerves and head Visits to the sauna have an overall effect that soothes psychological stress and restores a sense of overall wellbeing. Most people, almost without exception, experience a light feeling of euphoria and feelings of joy after a Russian sauna. Emotional stress is replaced by a sense of inner balance. The Russian sauna drives out depression, anxiety, obsessional neurosis, as well as improving sleep and soothing migraines. The sauna also eliminates the pain syndromes of radiculitis and regulates the immune system. Mental clarity, concentration are improved. Vision, hearing and sense of smell are also improved. Contraindications: epilepsy, Parkinson's disease.
And all that jazz For men, the Russian sauna is a triumphant remedy for prostatitis and adenoma of the prostate gland. 'Pareniye', (thermal massage with a sauna switch made from nettle, oak and juniper), the general warming of the body and organs of the lower pelvis, improves blood circulation. The vigour of youth is restored increasing sexual attractiveness. A note of caution: all the benefits listed above will be annulled by the intake of alcohol. Exercise restraint. Drink tea and mineral water.
The Russian sauna is salvation number one for women's health. The sauna naturally restores the menstrual cycle, mitigates menopausal symptoms, eliminates inflammation of internal organs and increases lactation in nursing mothers. The Russian sauna can even heal infertility. If intimacy with a partner is planned the day after taking a sauna, the likelihood of conception is increased. Contraindications: acute inflammation, post-surgery care period, complications during pregnancy.
At Furnace Art Engineering we specialise in traditional, Russian sauna stoves. To fully enjoy the health benefits of a Russian sauna, order one of our custom made 'turnkey' saunas.
The authentic Russian ‘banya’ is a source of longevity and key to a strong and healthy body.
'Happy Light Steam!'